Lullabies and bedtime songs

Singing lullabies or songs to your baby is a lovely, sweet way to soothe them, bond with them, and settle them down when bedtime approaches. In fact, the ritual of singing or humming a lullaby can be a key part of your little one's bedtime routine, letting them know that the time for sleep is coming soon. And, as they grow from infants into toddlers, you can also sing these lullabies together.

Benefits of Singing Lullabies to Babies

There's nothing better than singing to your baby and sharing music with your little one, especially at the end of the day when it's time for sleep. Listening to your voice as you sing lullabies can help your baby wind down before bed as part of a bedtime routine and can also boost their development. When you sing a lullaby to your baby and rock them in your arms, you may

  • stimulate early development of language

  • foster bonding and attachment

  • support your baby’s sense of spatial awareness

  • promote self-regulation and self-soothing.

So, what are some classic lullabies? No need to look any further as we’ve got them listed here. To help you choose a lullaby to sing, we’ve gathered up some of the best and most famous baby lullabies as well as songs from popular film, animated Disney films, and popular music that could be used as lullabies.

1. “Rock-a-bye Baby”

Both a nursery rhyme and a baby lullaby, “Rock-a-bye baby” or sometimes “Hush-a-bye baby” is based on an English ballad called “Lillibullero.” You may be wondering, “What is the most popular lullaby?” Well, this is probably among the best-known lullabies for babies, mostly for its unusual lyrics, which first appeared in the Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Since the lyrics are a bit graphic, if you’re creative, you could write your own to go with the melody. Use this instrumental version as background music when you sing the lullaby to your baby:

“Rock-a-bye Baby” Lyrics

Rock-a-bye baby on the treetops. When the wind blows, the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall. And down will come baby, cradle and all.

2. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”

With lyrics based on an early nineteenth-century poem by Jane Taylor and music based on “Ah! vous dirai-je, maman,” a French melody from 1761, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is a perennial favorite. The words encourage dreaming, wonder, and imagination—all the things a small child would experience when looking up at the night sky. As your little one grows, you can start to teach them the hand movements to this popular song—you may even remember these from your own childhood. Lisa Loeb’s version of the childhood song is adorable:

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” Lyrics

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are! Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky.

3. “Cradle Song” (Brahms’s Lullaby) or “Wiegenlied”

Another classic baby lullaby, “Cradle Song” (also commonly known by its first line, “Lullaby and goodnight”) was composed by Johannes Brahms and published in 1868 as “Wiegenlied” (German for cradle song) for one of his former flames on the birth of her second child. The original German lyrics for the classical piece are based on a folk poem. Translated into English, it’s just as beautiful, encouraging your little one to lie down, rest, and fall asleep. If you’re wondering, “What is the most soothing lullaby?” look no further. Listen to Celine Dion’s ethereal rendition of the lullaby:

“Cradle Song” (Brahms’s Lullaby) or “Wiegenlied” Lyrics

Lullaby and goodnight, with roses bedight With lilies o'er spread is baby's wee bed Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed

4. “Hush Little Baby”

Most likely originating from the Southern states, this baby lullaby promises rewards for a child if they are quiet for naptime or bedtime. Many famous artists such as Joan Baez, Regina Spektor, and Nina Simone have recorded this lullaby, and there’s even an R&B version of it called “Mockingbird,” which has been performed by Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, and Etta James, among others. The melody is easy for any parent to master. In addition, dads can sing it, too—just switch out “mama” with “dada.” This folk version from Peter, Paul, and Mary is an adorable take on this classic lullaby:

“Hush Little Baby” Lyrics

Hush, little Baby, don't say a word, Mama's gonna buy you a Mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don't sing, Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring. And if that diamond ring turns brass, Mama's gonna buy you a looking glass.

5. “All the Pretty Little Horses”

Most likely African American in origin, “All the Pretty Little Horses” promises that if the baby goes to sleep, they’ll have “all the pretty horses” when they awake. The lullaby has been recorded by many popular artists, and even inspired a novel of the same name. Many versions of the lullaby can be both touching and haunting. Listen to this version by Joan Baez:

All the Pretty Little Horses

Hush-a-bye, Don't you cry Go to sleep, my little baby When you wake, you shall have All the pretty little horses Dapples and grays, blacks and bays All the pretty little horses.

6. “All Through the Night”

This Welsh song is a well-known hymn that doubles as a lullaby for babies. It’s sometimes also considered a Christmas carol. It was first published in 1784, and it was later translated into several languages, including English. The lyrics encourage your little baby to go to sleep, promising protection from guardian angels and loved ones. Listen to the traditional lullaby sung by Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel:

“All Through the Night” Lyrics

Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee, All through the night Guardian angels God will send thee, All through the night Soft the drowsy hours are creeping, Hill and dale in slumber sleeping I my loved ones' watch am keeping, All through the night.

7. “When You Wish Upon a Star”

This tender song appears in the classic Disney animated film Pinocchio, which was originally released in 1940. It’s one of the highest-ranked Disney film songs and won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Original Song. The lyrics are easy to remember. The song encourages reaching for the stars, following your heart, and dreaming big. Watch the opening credits to Pinocchio to hear the original song:

“When You Wish Upon a Star” Lyrics

When you wish upon a star Makes no difference who you are Anything your heart desires Will come to you If your heart is in your dream No request is too extreme When you wish upon a star As dreamers do

8. “Sleep, Baby, Sleep”

Based on German lyrics written in 1611, and a melody written in 1876, this pretty lullaby has very imaginative lyrics in which both parents have roles. Dad tends the sheep and mom shakes dreams from a tree, encouraging a little one to fall asleep with sweet dreams. You can make this a duet and sing it with your partner. Listen to this version of the classic lullaby:

“Sleep, Baby, Sleep” Lyrics

Sleep, baby, sleep Your father tends the sheep Your mother shakes the dreamland tree And from it fall sweet dreams for thee Sleep, baby, sleep Sleep, baby, sleep.

9. “Baby Mine”

From the 1941 Disney film Dumbo, “Baby Mine” is sung by Dumbo’s mother, a caged circus elephant, as she cradles her little one with her trunk. The tune and the lyrics are perfect as a lullaby, and reinforce the bond between parent and child, the comfort of being cared for and watched over. Listen to Arcade Fire’s version of “Baby Mine” from the live-action Disney film:

“Baby Mine” Lyrics

Baby mine, don't you cry Baby mine, dry your eyes Rest your head close to my heart Never to part, baby of mine Little one when you play Don't you mind what you say Let those eyes sparkle and shine Never a tear, baby of mine

10. “You Are My Sunshine”

Although not originally a lullaby, “You Are My Sunshine” has become one because of its touching lyrics. Originally a country song, in recent years it’s appeared in many TV commercials with babies. It’s considered one of the most-covered songs in American popular music. Listen to this version by Kina Grannis:

“You Are My Sunshine” Lyrics

You are my sunshine My only sunshine You make me happy When skies are grey You'll never know, dear How much I love you Please don't take my sunshine away.

11. “Over the Rainbow”

This tune from The Wizard of Oz has become one of the most famous film songs for a reason: It’s heartfelt and it’s about making dreams come true. Composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg, “Over the Rainbow” won an Academy Award in 1939. Watch this version by the late Hawaiian singer Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole:

“Over the Rainbow” Lyrics

Somewhere over the rainbow Way up high And the dreams that you dream of Once in a lullaby Somewhere over the rainbow Bluebirds fly And the dreams that you dream of Dreams really do come true

12. “Rainbow Connection”

There’s something special about a rainbow—more than just the tale of there being a pot of gold at the end. A rainbow is special and rare, offering an intangible hope. Since we’re on this theme of rainbows, here’s a song that most children of the late 1970s and early 1980s will remember. Featured in the 1979 film The Muppet Movie, the “Rainbow Connection” is sung by the endearing Kermit the Frog. The writers were actually inspired by the song “When You Wish Upon a Star” when writing the tune. This song perfectly captures the spirit of hopes and dreams in every child and adult! Listen to Kermit the Frog and his banjo in this original rendition:

“Rainbow Connection” Lyrics

Why are there so many Songs about rainbows And what's on the other side Rainbows are visions But only illusions And rainbows have nothing to hide So we've been told and some Choose to believe it But I know they're wrong wait and see Someday we'll find it The Rainbow Connection.

13. “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”

Based on Hungarian composer Franz Liszt’s Etude No. 9, this Disney song from the animated film Cinderella also encourages dreaming. Cinderella sings the tune to her animal friends as she tries to imagine a world for herself outside of her daily chores and toxic stepfamily. Both this song and “When You Wish Upon a Star” are very similar in that way, as they’re both about encouraging dreaming in the sense of making wishes or desires come true. In the 2015 live-action Disney version, Lily James performs the song in the video below:

“A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” Lyrics

A dream is a wish your heart makes When you're fast asleep In dreams you will lose your heartaches Whatever you wish for, you keep Have faith in your dreams and someday Your rainbow will come smiling through No matter how your heart is grieving If you keep on believing The dream that you wish will come true

14. “Stay Awake”

From the endearing Mary Poppins film, this lullaby, written by the Sherman brothers, is sung by the incomparable Julie Andrews as nanny Mary Poppins. Mary can’t get the Banks children to go to sleep after a day filled with activity, so she uses a bit of reverse psychology in this song, which works wonders on Jane and Michael as their eyelids get heavy and they eventually fall peacefully asleep. For fans of the film, this would be a cute way to sing your baby to sleep:

“Stay Awake” Lyrics

Stay awake, don't rest your head Don't lie down upon your bed While the moon drifts in the skies Stay awake, don't close your eyes. Though the world is fast asleep Though your pillow's soft and deep You're not sleepy as you seem Stay awake, don't nod and dream.

15. “Hushabye Mountain”

In the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Dick van Dyke as inventor Caractacus Potts sings this lullaby to his two children at bedtime. Also written by the Sherman brothers, this song has a beautiful melody and lyrics that wipe away the worries of the day and encourage a restful sleep. You’ll love singing this ballad to your baby. Listen to a modern version of this beautiful lullaby in the below video from Richard and Lisa:

“Hushabye Mountain” Lyrics

A gentle breeze from Hushabye Mountain Softly blows over Lullaby Bay, It fills the sails of boats that are waiting, Waiting to sail your worries away. It isn't far to Hushabye Mountain, And your boat waits down by the quay. The winds of night so softly are sighing, Soon they will fly your troubles to sea.

16. “Simple Gifts”

Based on a Shaker tune from 1848, “Simple Gifts” wasn’t very well known outside of the Shaker community until composer Aaron Copland used the melody in his Appalachian Spring, which premiered in 1944. He later released the song in 1950 as part of a set in Old American Songs. Thanks to Copland, we have this beautiful tune with touching lyrics that make the perfect lullaby.

“Simple Gifts” Lyrics

'Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free 'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 'Twill be in the valley of love and delight. When true simplicity is gained, To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed, To turn, turn will be our delight, Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

17. “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”

First introduced in 1955, “Que Sera, Sera” was made famous a year later by Doris Day in Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Man Who Knew Too Much. The song went on to win an Academy Award, became Day’s signature song, and was recorded by countless artists thereafter. Each verse of the song progresses through the life of an inquisitive child (in this case, the singer) who asks their mother questions about life and love. It couldn’t be a better lullaby for a child who’s filled with wonder. And it provides a great lesson about life, i.e., “whatever will be, will be.” The catchy melody makes it easy to sing. Feel free to swap out the gender if you’re singing to your little boy. Listen to Doris Day’s original recording:

“Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” Lyrics

When I was just a little girl I asked my mother, what will I be Will I be pretty, will I be rich Here's what she said to me: Que sera, sera Whatever will be, will be The future's not ours to see Que sera, sera What will be, will be.

18. “It’s You I Like”

Anyone who grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and public television in general will remember the wonderful lessons that Fred Rogers taught kids, from celebrating our differences to seeing the inherent similarity in humanity. This song says all that and can serve as a beautiful lesson and love-affirming lullaby for your little one. Listen to Fred Rogers’ simple and classic song:

“It’s You I Like” Lyrics

It's you I like, It's not the things you wear, It's not the way you do your hair But it's you I like The way you are right now, The way down deep inside you Not the things that hide you, Not your toys They're just beside you.

19. “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)”

Undoubtedly one of the most famous holiday films ever made, White Christmas has become a staple in many household holiday movie marathons. Although it’s the finale number that’s the most well known, this song, which kickstarts the romantic relationship between Bob (Bing Crosby’s character) and Betty (Rosemary Clooney’s character), is so sweet and sentimental that it makes the perfect lullaby. Interestingly, composer Irving Berlin wrote this song after his doctor gave him advice on dealing with his insomnia. So, you know, it’s bound to get your little one to fall asleep! Relive the original version from the film:

“Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” Lyrics

When I'm worried and I can't sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep And I fall asleep counting my blessings. When my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all And I fall asleep counting my blessings.

20. “What a Wonderful World”

First recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1967, the song “What a Wonderful World” didn’t hit it big until 1988. Supposedly its promoter didn’t think it was upbeat enough, so it languished for years until it was rereleased. It eventually became one of the most recognized songs in the world, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. There’s something so easy and pure about the melody and the lyrics, making it ideal to sing to your baby at bedtime. Listen to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”:

“What a Wonderful World” Lyrics

I see trees of green, red roses too I see them bloom for me and you And I think to myself what a wonderful world. I see skies of blue and clouds of white The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

21. “My Favorite Things”

When times are bad or sad, think about all the things that make you happy. That’s the message of “My Favorite Things,” written and composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein for The Sound of Music. The story follows Austrian widower Georg von Trapp and his family as they take on a new governess who intends to become a nun. With impending war and uncertainty, the film offers an uplifting view of life, love, and happiness despite hardship, and this song couldn’t underline that message any better. In these uncertain times, “My Favorite Things” gives hope to little ones that all will be well as long as there’s hope. The incomparable Julie Andrews (as the novice and governess Maria) sings to the von Trapp children:

“My Favorite Things” Lyrics

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with strings These are a few of my favorite things. Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels; Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles; Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings; These are a few of my favorite things.

22. “Star Light, Star Bright”

Originally a nursery rhyme, “Star Bright, Star Light” was eventually set to music. It has appeared in many films, such as Disney’s Pinocchio, where puppet maker Geppetto wishes for his newly made puppet to turn into a boy. This very simple lullaby could be just the right one for your little one, inspiring them to wish upon a star. Listen to this children’s version of the song:

“Star Light, Star Bright” Lyrics

Star light, star bright, First star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.

23. “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)”

If you’re looking for a more modern lullaby, you’ll be excited to discover this song by Billy Joel. Written for his daughter, the song grew out of another track on his 1994 album River of Dreams. As the story goes, while writing the melody, Joel’s daughter Alexa Ray kept asking questions about life and death, which led Joel to writing this piece. Some years later Joel even wrote two children’s books, the first one being inspired by the song and its lyrics. You’ll be touched by the tune and its beautiful message to young inquisitive children. Listen to Joel’s lovely “Lullabye”:

“Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)” Lyrics

Goodnight my angel, time to close your eyes And save these questions for another day I think I know what you've been asking me I think you know what I've been trying to say I promised I would never leave you Then you should always know Wherever you may go, no matter where you are I never will be far away.

24. “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”

Beatles and John Lennon fans will recognize this touching lullaby written by John Lennon for his son Sean. Supposedly Lennon wrote the song after his son had a nightmare. And the lyrics accurately capture the love and comfort Lennon wishes for his son at bedtime. If you like, there’s also a more recent version covered by Celine Dion, which is just as beautiful. Feel free to adapt the lyrics for your daughter—it doesn’t just have to be for boys! Listen to John Lennon’s original version here:

“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” Lyrics

Close your eyes, Have no fear, The monster's gone, He's on the run And your daddy's here, Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful boy.

25. Stand by Me

Written in 1961 and originally performed by Ben E. King, the melody of this song will be recognizable to many people. It eventually inspired the title of the 1986 film Stand by Me, which was based on a Stephen King novella. It’s safe to say that the popularity of the song overshadowed the film, since the song became so popular that it’s been covered more than 400 times. Likely based on a gospel hymn, the song has characteristics of music from the 1950s and 1960s with a unique chord progression that gives it a classic feel. Reassure your little one at bedtime that you’ll always be there for each other by singing them this song! Listen to the original version by Ben E. King:

Stand by Me Lyrics

When the night, has come And the land is dark And the moon, is the only, light we'll see No I won't, be afraid No I won't, be afraid Just as long, as you stand, stand by me.

The Bottom Line

Still wondering what is a good lullaby to sing to your baby? Singing any of these lullabies for babies or bedtime songs to your little one at nighttime are good options. They can create a wonderful bonding moment as well as help your baby go to sleep. But by no means are you limited to these selections. We hope these lullaby ideas inspire you to warm up your vocal cords and maybe even create your own baby lullaby. In the meantime, check out this article on newborn sleep to learn more about your baby’s sleeping needs and to discover ways to soothe them when they’re crying. In fact, singing them a lullaby is one of the tips! For help building the best sleep routine, download the Smart Sleep Coach app by Pampers. The sleep experts have curated the best knowledge on all things to do with sleep and transformed them into mini courses to help turn you into a sleep pro!

Once your baby is sound asleep, take some time to earn cash for all your Pampers purchases. Just scan your diapers and wipes into the Pampers Club app and turn them into Pampers Cash.